Groveport ponders EPA test

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Groveport officials have the results of environmental testing conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a proposed west Groveport Road sewer project. Now they have to figure out what the report means.

Village Administrator Jon Crusey told Groveport Village Council at its Nov. 26 meeting that the EPA’s report was received Nov. 20. While the report presented numbers and measurements for E.coli, fecal coliform, ammonia, nitrate, and phosphorous regarding surface water in the proposed project area, it contained no analysis or explanation of the results.

"The report gave no indication of parameters," said Crusey.

Crusey said he has requested the EPA provide such information by council’s Dec. 17 meeting.

The proposed  2,100 foot, $863,000 ($1.6 million if potential interest on notes/bonds is included in the total cost) sanitary sewer line would include a mix of residential, farm, churches, and commercial properties along Groveport Road west from Greenpointe Drive to the First Baptist Church of Groveport. The sewer line would serve an area encompassing 240 acres.

Marc Studley of Access Storage, located on west Groveport Road, has appealed to council to proceed with the project. But council  members are steadfast that they want to hold off taking any action until they could review complete results from the EPA and Franklin County’s health and environmental testing of the area.

"We’d like to have an official written explanation of the EPA test results before proceeding," said Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert.

"Once you know the results and what they mean, what would be the time frame to get this back on the agenda?" Studley asked council.

"It depends on the explanation of the results," replied Hilbert.

Village officials indicated that, when the explanatory information is received from the EPA, council could discuss the matter. A decision on whether to proceed with the project could depend on the results received from the testing.

On Oct. 22 the Franklin County Board of Health reported to the village that a field review of the area was completed Oct. 16. According to the county’s report, "We visually inspected numerous commercial properties between Hamilton Road west to the corner of Swisher Road. In the course of our review we did not discover evidence of any waste water violations."

Background

Council voted 3-2 at its Dec. 18, 2006, meeting to defeat the legislation for the proposed sewer line project with council members Ed Rarey, Jim Staebler, and Jan Stoots voting against it and Jean Ann Hilbert and Ed Dildine supporting it. (Councilwoman Donna Drury was absent.)

Those voting against the project felt it placed too high of a financial burden in the form of assessments on the residential property owners in the affected area.

Five votes were needed to approve the legislation since the proposed project was not requested by a majority of the owners of the 16 properties in the affected area and direct assessments to the property owners would have been used to pay for the project. A super majority vote of council is needed when a municipality determines there is a need to extend a utility and affected property owners have not voluntarily petitioned the government to do so.

In an April 26, 2007, letter to the village, the EPA’s Central District Office Chief Craig Butler expressed disappointment in the failure of the project to move forward, stating, "Plainly put, the status quo, a hodge-podge of unpermitted, violating, or inadequate sewage systems is not an acceptable option to the EPA for long term management of sewage in this area (west Groveport Road)."

At a meeting between village representatives, interested parties, and the EPA in May, the EPA requested village officials discuss with council its reconsideration of the sewer project along with alternative methods of financing.

In return, the village asked for the EPA and Franklin County Board of Health to provide Groveport officials with a written assessment of the status of the existing on-site sanitary sewer systems along west Groveport Road; and a ruling on whether the single family residences in the area could not be required to hook up to the new system for 10 years or until their on-site system failed.

In response, the EPA and Franklin County conducted tests this fall and the Franklin County Board of Health ruled that, if a new public sewer system was eventually in place, the residential properties would have to hook up to it.

Financing options

The 20-year assessments for the 16 affected properties for the proposed project  range from $6,051 to $518,728 based on acreage; and from $19,280 to $225,026 based on frontage.

The village could be reimbursed for costs associated with the construction of the sewer by either instituting direct assessments on the affected property owners for 20 years; or creating an assessment district where property owners would have to pay for their portion of the system in one lump sum payment.

Other financing options include: not assessing 100 percent of the project by just assessing the construction; or the village could assess whatever percentage of the cost it chose; or set a specific dollar figure.

Council could also choose to not assess the project at all and, instead, could increase the sewer fees for all the residents of the village to pay for the project.

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